Although the Climate Change Levy (CCL) is nothing new to businesses in the UK, the amount one company notified its customers would be added to their bills was a bit of a shock, to say the least. According to business customers of E.ON, they received a letter stating that from 1 April they had a surcharge of £5.09 per kWh of electricity used, which is the equivalent to approximately boiling a teakettle ten times over. In addition, they would also be charged an amount of £1.77 per kWh for gas and when all added up at the end of the year, those businesses would be paying government taxes totalling more than £150,000.
Obviously that was an error on the part of E.ON and the real taxes should have been £0.509 and £0.177 per kWh respectively, but many people are opposed to the CCL. There is a widespread movement which is growing by the day to replace the inefficient CCL with a more efficient carbon tax. The whole purpose behind the levy is to literally force businesses to become more energy efficient. However, there is some amount of discrepancy in the way taxes are charged. Where some renewable aren’t assessed a tax, electricity generated from nuclear power is taxed and it does not even result in carbon emissions.
When the letters first began arriving, some customers were actually outraged before they realised it must be a clerical error. Indeed, how could levies imposed by government be 1,000 times that of the legislated amount? As a result, E.ON was literally overwhelmed with calls from businesses across the UK disputing the proposed levy since they would be asked to pay more than £5 per unit for the power they had been using since 1 April. Oddly enough, since the new rate became effective as of the first of April, some business customers thought it ‘might’ be an April Fool’s Day hoax, albeit a costly one when calculating the cost of postage on all those letters.
The erroneous letter was generated and posted to approximately 65,000 business customers in the UK and according to a spokesperson for E.ON a second letter was posted as soon as the error was brought to their attention. This second missive was in apology for the obvious error on the part of the energy giant and that the first letter did indeed indicate an incorrect price in regards to the CCL. This same spokesperson also noted that it was not an April Fool but, as previously mentioned, a clerical error.
In retrospect, whoever was responsible for that error ended up costing the company a considerable amount of money when the price of postage is accounted for. Many businesses are now speculating just how many errors the company makes and if those errors are part of the reason why the cost of energy continues to rise inordinately fast in relation to the economy. This is, for sure, food for thought.